As a white woman, I haven’t experienced the fear and indignity of being treated as if I’m less human because of my skin color. I write this knowing that my perspective is limited and influenced by the accident of my skin color. I know that “white silence kills,” and I’m complicit if I don’t use my voice to acknowledge and speak out against systemic racism.

The murder of George Floyd stoked profound rage throughout America and the world, and gave rise to protests, unlike any witnessed during my lifetime. People of all races, ages, and socio-economic groups are protesting against this brutal act, and even more against the systems that have given rise to such abuse.

This is a critical turning point in our country. It’s time for us — the white community — to insist on and fight for the changes that must be made to heal the deep, persistent inequities in our society. It’s time to put an end to a system that has allowed privileges associated with “whiteness,” and disadvantages associated with “color” and ethnicity, to endure and adapt over time.

Systemic racism isn’t just about deliberate acts of discrimination. It’s also about favoritism and bias, woven into the fabric of our social, economic and political systems. It’s about systems of oppression that continue to benefit white people. We’ve seen the ugly truth of overt racism. Still, we must also recognize the more subtle racism hidden in our choices and decisions.

Do we support integrated housing? Do we recruit, employ and promote the descendants of enslaved Africans? Do we support black leadership and listen to black voices at all levels of decision-making? Do we vote for judges who sentence white and black offenders equally? Do we decry inequitable and discriminatory health, education and justice systems? In our everyday choices, are we willing to give up our power and privilege to invite others to the table, to share in the “American dream?”

It’s time to right this 400-year-old wrong. It’s America’s most profound contradiction and shame, and white folks have been part of the problem for far too long. Now, we must be part of the solution. A good place to start is by reading “75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice,” a story published in Medium by Corinne Shutack. The article makes clear that racial justice is a marathon, not a sprint. It also clarifies that our work as white people — to fix what we broke and have left broken — isn’t done until black Americans tell us it’s done.

Today’s celebration of Juneteenth commemorates the date June 19, 1865, when a Union army general publicly read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston to all enslaved Africans. Today, 155 years later, real emancipation for black Americans hasn’t happened.

It has taken too long for us to take our knees off the necks of our black neighbors. Let them breathe — empower them to thrive and flourish as equals.

Sheridan Mitchell Lorenz is a board member of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and co-founder and board member of Galveston Sustainable Communities Alliance.

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(12) comments

David Hardee

Great story, you tell. The subtly in developing your point makes it difficult to isolate any specific place to have a direct contra statement.

Your story is about the psyche. The marathon of psyche development is the story about the influence on a single INDIVIDUAL. You have given the collective a psyche aka “group think”. That (groupthink) is what the simple-minded rely on to harbor themselves from any debate. Cleaving to groups protects all from individual culpabilities. You have succinctly identified the primary reason for the chaos in America's society. Groupthink is a parade/demonstration/riot/etc. on the march today in America. The marchers bask in their glorious mantra for what-ever.

I would spend the time telling a contra story, except mine would be exposing the irrational and destructive result that “group think” has caused on American society.

John Cole

GDN just erased my previous post regarding the Reality of juneteenth, and the lies of protecting blacks from being open to change and not stay on the plantation. The Emancipation Proclamation ONLY applied to Southern states when the traitor Lincoln presented this even though there were just as many slaves in the north. For decades, the Wealth Transfer of over $50 Trillion has taken place from the White Race to the predominantly black race in the form of welfare and other entitlements. Blacks have been ingrates towards Whites for our Generosity and even have lied to themselves and told themselves that they are entitled to special treatment. This is bologna. Get out and get a job, stay out of prison, (Where the majority are Black anyway), Fathers stay home and rear your sons. This is the American Dream. Be all you can be...for your Kids. Remember, You are only 13%. Dr. John Cole-Friendswood

Charles Douglas

Dr. Cole, the two sons I raised both have MASTER DEGREES, from D1 Universities!

Kimberley Jones Yancy

Spoken like a True American Racist.

Bailey Jones

This is what you get when "white people contribute to emancipation".

Charles Douglas

Now Mr. Jones, I am surprised that you of all people would say such a thing! See, allow me to enlighten you on something my father taught me back when he realized I was on my way to prison, and needed some fatherly guidance. He overheard me speaking hate against WHITE people one day, So he.pointed his finger in my 21 year old face, admonishing me, for my vile words then he told me a story. His story was about a time he had no place to go as a young teen and he walk & hitch-hiked thirty miles to a WHITE man's house just to ask him for a job! I won't bore you with all of the particulars, but the man gave him a job, and a small house on his property to live ....AS A TEENAGER! See Mr. Jones they did not have Child Protective Services who gave a RIP about African-Americans then! My dad lived & worked there for the rest of his teen years even after he met my mother at a church picnic in another small town nearby! I was born in that house which by that time had improvements added! So, in ending his lesson to me, my father reminded me that there exists no races of people who are ALL bad, or ALL good! He went on to say there were good and bad people in all races here, and a man need to live his life knowing and treating folks like that! IT Changed my life! I doubt if my mom could have impacted my life the same way at that time I needed what He gave me THEN! What's my point? Sir, my point is Dr. Cole is one individual out of the millions on this earth who is entitled to his opinion. I know others beside the WHITE man who helped my dad that contributed the ultimate to Emancipation! How about Ms. Viola Liuzzo, from Michigan, WHITE mother of five who got her head blown off by the KKK for helping BLACK people in Alabama during the Civil Rights struggle? How about the WHITE men named Goodman and Schwerner who died with James Chaney, A BLACK man on a lonely, dark Mississippi road, tortured & killed by the KLAN because they were registering African-Americans to vote? Now, I think sir, if an apology to these people are not forth coming, then on behalf of those I mentioned, and the thousands of others I did not mention here, ...an explanation is in order!

Bailey Jones

I accept your rebuke, Charles. He just riles me.

Don Schlessinger

Well said Charles Douglas. [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Comment deleted.
Charles Douglas

Dr. Cole, I walked Off that plantation years and years ago! I never looked back!

Comment deleted.
Kimberley Jones Yancy

Mr. Cole you are the embodiment of “that same evil” that tortures the dreams of true equity in America. My goodness, you won’t smell the aroma of Heaven with that much hate in your heart.

Bailey Jones

Now we just need Ray, or Gary, or Carlos, to chime in telling us that Dr. John Cole of Friendswood is a Democrat and my morning will be complete.

David Hardee

Kimberly, your right that an impoverished and demoralized population can be led by a messiah (Hitler) to become a scourge on humanity No such condition exists in our country. Yet many messiahs are exploiting groups that perceive themselves as victims of a 100-year-old social inequity. Once those groups shun their messiahs and the exploitations civility can begin. Groups following the prescription that equality is achieved by destroying statues are imitating Hitlerian tactics.

Kimberly – Let us hope that heaven is available to those (like you and me) having disparaging thoughts and words. If thoughts and words are sins we are not pure enough to get even a whiff of heaven.

Lorenzo’s article portrays the destruction by demonstrators as mere abuses. Then she proceeds to gather and itemize the white racist atrocities over a period of 155 years. She deserves criticism as being preferential. Dr. Cole submitted his critique, Dr. Cole's comment is factual in itemizing the events that were beneficial to the blacks. He is correct that those attempts do not get recognized as any beneficial effort by those they intended to help.

Here is a summary of the irreconcilable(s):

group 1. would like the other to wear sac-cloth, flagellate, and Mea Culpa in public.

group 2. would like the other group to vanish from existence.

You pick the name you believe is qualified for each group.

No legislation, series of demonstrations, a majority in population will bring beneficial change. And joining an association of a “group think” psyche is dissolving you from an individual to be an ingredient in a pot of mush. Stay independent and free.

P.s. - If you found it to be quick and easy to pick names for the groups you need self-inspection help.

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